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Social Work Seminar Series: Growing up or growing bad? Vertical Mass Suburbanisation in times of a Housing Crisis

This paper highlights the verticalization of housing in London and more specifically problematises the mechanisms under which (sub)urban expansion and densification is taking place in London highlighting issues relating to private/public partnerships in new developments as well as in the redevelopment of council estates and the delivery of ‘affordable’ housing while more broadly questioning who this future is for.

Magali PeyrefitteThis discussion holds particular significance in dealing with the ‘London housing crisis’, its response and its impact on its people as well as on the landscape of the city. The Mayor set out the London Housing Strategy to respond to a major housing shortage in the capital. The Implementation Plan of this Strategy requires the boroughs to deliver 649,350 net housing completion over ten years (Greater London Authority, May 2018). It is therefore essential to shine more light on this phenomenon especially as it has been gathering pace across the city both in inner urban and suburban areas.

With a particular focus on the suburbs of the capital, the paper questions the visions of the future that are communicated to residents or prospective buyers or tenants. In order to do so, it draws on archives mined at the Museum of Domestic Architecture and compare them to visual data from fieldwork conducted in suburban areas situated in two of London’s outer boroughs. Evidences of what can be described as new form of mass suburbanisation invites further attention to be paid to the shrinking of the public sphere and its impact on the delivery and accessibility of public services.

In this context, the voices of social housing residents tend be silenced and lost in the complex assemblage that has become public housing. As such, this paper will also dedicate some time to residents’ voices by mentioning the work that I am conducting on two council estates that are in the process of being regenerated and trying to tell a story of resistance in an urban socio-economic context where social/council housing in the UK and in London has been under major strains and as a result has seen major restructuring. It also tells the story of how residents are often engaging in practices of home-making and convivial community building in these circumstances.

Dr Magali Peyrefitte is a Senior Lecturer in a Criminology/Deviance in the Department of Sociology, Media and Communication. As an urban studies scholar, she is interested in the way people experience space and place in the city. This is reflected in her methodological work which explores these questions through multi-sensorial and multi-media qualitative approaches. She has worked on a number of research projects using visual and creative methods to collect as well as disseminate data. Magali has published on both the theoretical and methodological aspects of her work exploring original and radical ways of researching the city.

Dr. Yohai Hakak
Senior Lecturer In Social Work
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